Challenging a culture of silence
In March, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its initial report on how Australian institutions—including churches, schools, sports clubs and government organizations—have responded to allegations of child sexual abuse.
The groundbreaking report revealed that children were allegedly sexually abused in more than 4,000 Australian institutions, including the Catholic and Anglican churches.
From 1980 to 2015, about 4,500 allegations of child abuse involving 1,880 alleged offenders were brought to the attention of authorities in the Australian Catholic church. In that same period, more than 1,100 complaints of child sexual abuse were made in the Anglican Church of Australia. The alleged abuses involved 285 laypeople and 247 clergy from 22 of the church’s 23 dioceses.
Since the numbers do not include unreported cases, the true magnitude of the abuse remains unknown. However, the inquiry clearly established the lasting and multi-generational impact of childhood sexual abuse and the great lengths institutions went to protect predators. The commission interviewed more than 1,200 witnesses in public hearings and held 6,500 private sessions with survivors and witnesses, including those in nursing homes and hospitals.